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Students who complete an online master’s in human services degree can further their knowledge of the services, policies, and research that goes into improving human lives. Those with a degree may be able to gain a senior-level position as a medical and health services manager, and they can expect to earn an average pay of $101,340 per year.

Students must typically complete 30 credits to earn this degree, and most full-time students can complete all required coursework in two years or even one year via an accelerated program. According to U.S. News & World Report, this degree may cost between $13,000 to $25,000, cheaper than the average undergraduate degree (which costs $26,000 to complete).

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Human Services Program

Choose your area of study

Some online master’s in human services degrees are more generalized, but some may require students to select a particular area of study. These concentrations typically include organizational leadership, student affairs, counseling, and nonprofit management.

It’s important to remember that specific areas of study are optimized to help students learn the skills needed for particular careers after graduation. By carefully researching the kinds of jobs they want to pursue after graduating, students can select an area of study that best meets their needs, which may significantly improve the odds of finding a desirable job in a particular field.

Research schools and programs

When researching different online master’s in human services programs, students need to narrow the extensive list of schools down to a few of the most promising ones.

Always disregard any schools that are not properly accredited. Such schools typically offer a subpar education, and it will be challenging to get a job with a degree from an unaccredited school and downright impossible to get federal financial aid when attending. The second way to narrow things down is by cost, as attending schools outside their budget can leave students stuck with large amounts of debt. Finally, consider eliminating prospective schools that don’t offer the flexible schedule you may need as a remote learner.

Prepare for tests and applications

While many online master’s in human services programs no longer require GRE scores as part of the application, some programs still have this requirement. Students who need to take the GRE for the first time should pay careful attention to application deadlines: it can take up to three months to study for the exam and up to 15 days to receive results, so it’s important to schedule any necessary tests well ahead of application deadlines.

It’s equally important to review the application for any other additional requirements, which may include letters of recommendation, application essays, and a cover letter.

Select your program

With the list of online master’s in human services programs narrowed down, students must determine which one(s) they will apply to.

Cost should remain a priority consideration, as avoiding student debt can help graduates get a jumpstart on their careers. It may be worth checking the university websites and contacting admissions offices to discover whether the program has a high job placement rate. Finally, students worried about their academic performance should consider focusing on schools that offer tutoring and other support services to all remote students.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

The first step in getting help paying for a degree is for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. Completing this form will automatically qualify students for federal financial aid, and a completed FAFSA may be a requirement for specific scholarships. While scholarships and grants are rarer for graduate students than undergraduate students, it may be worth looking into what is available. To do so, contact the Financial Aid office of prospective schools to ask about what types of aid may be available through the school or the state.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Best Online Master's in Human Services Degree Programs

University of Illinois Springfield

CSUN Tseng College

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Liberty University

University of Oklahoma

Bellevue University

Regent University

CSP Global

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Arizona State University

Wilmington University

NSU Florida College of Education & School of Criminal Justice

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Saint Leo University

Kansas State University

Bryan College

University of Redlands

Minot State University

Southeastern University

Northeastern University College of Professional Studies

East Tennessee State University

Houston Christian University

St. Joseph's University, New York

University of Northwestern at St. Paul

Warner Pacific University

Lenoir-Rhyne University

Webster University

Youngstown State University

Springfield College

Western Carolina University

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Mercer University

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How We Rank Schools

We concentrated on master’s-level programs in human services for this list. Within this subject, students typically earn either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree.

Once we compiled our list of programs, we reviewed them based on cost, outcomes, reputation, faculty, and flexibility. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Human Services Program?

Students taking an online master’s in human services course can expect a curriculum with coursework that focuses on several key areas. These areas include social work, counseling, substance abuse intervention, family support services, and public health initiatives.

The curriculum’s sheer diversity is because the class is designed to help students learn how to become community leaders who help those around them lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives. As a side effect of this, students must learn several different skills that are all useful in their own right but that collectively help prepare students for a unique leadership role in their area.

Most of these graduate programs are comprised of 30 credit hours. A full-time student typically needs two years to complete everything. However, students can graduate quicker by taking accelerated programs or increasing their course load. Typically, these programs are fully remote and do not require students to spend time on campus.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in human services degree program

  • Law and Practice in Human Services. This course teaches students how the law can facilitate and limit the implementation of human services in a given area. Accordingly, students will learn about civil and criminal court matters and how they impact human services directly and indirectly over time.
  • Survey of Human Services. The course focuses on the historical foundation of human services and examines how different forces (including social and political influences) may affect the design and implementation of much-needed services.
  • Human Services Helping Skills. This course focuses on how to create a better local community. The actual coursework primarily consists of recognizing major problems in individuals and areas and developing creative solutions to those problems.
  • Human Behavior & Human Systems. This class teaches students about psychology, neurology, physiology, and more to better understand the struggles of diverse individuals and help plan interventions as needed.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Human Services?

Career outlook

An online master’s in human services degree is generally required for management-level positions or jobs that work directly with clients in a clinical setting, such as mental health counseling. This is a fast-growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipating 28% job growth in this sector through 2032, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Salary expectations vary widely depending on career path, but medical and health services managers make an average of $104,830 per year.

Career paths

Graduates of an online master’s in human services degree program are able to take their knowledge and skills and apply them to a variety of career paths. Students may choose to work in the mental health field directly with clients or work in administrative positions involving community or outreach services.

Below are just a few of the career paths available:

  • Social worker – identify needs and connect clients with resources and programs that can provide assistance
  • Community services manager – design and implement outreach programs to help those in need or vulnerable populations
  • Behavioral therapist – work with clients in a clinical setting to identify problematic behaviors, identify the motivations behind them, and learn alternate coping strategies
  • Probation officer – supervise those who have been released on probation to ensure they follow their guidelines and successfully integrate into society
  • Crisis intervention specialist – help those in the community who are facing urgent needs or who may be at risk of harming themselves or others

Social Worker

Earning Potential: $55,350 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Human Services, Social Work, or related fields

Social workers serve various functions in society, such as connecting at-risk populations with community services or working directly with people through mental health counseling. They need to be able to quickly assess situations to determine what the issues are and what services and approaches may help. Social workers may work in emergency services, such as intervening in cases involving suspected child abuse or mental health crises. They must be able to stay calm in stressful situations, rely on de-escalation tactics, and maintain clear and complete records.

Community Services Manager

Earning Potential: $74,240 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Human Services, Social Work, Public Policy, or related fields

Community services managers ensure that the programs and services designed to help people and support the public are running efficiently and effectively. They may assess community needs to determine which services would be most helpful and can assist in designing and implementing programs. Community services managers must be able to analyze data to determine which programs are used the most or are most effective. They may need to write grant proposals to secure funding for community programs and plan outreach activities to increase public awareness.

Crisis Intervention Specialist

Earning Potential: $44,658 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in Human Services, Counseling, or related fields

Crisis intervention specialists help those who are experiencing mental health problems or substance abuse issues. In some cases, they may work with populations that are at high risk of homelessness, domestic violence, or other crises. Crisis intervention specialists may provide counseling services to clients or help connect them with resources, or they may work in more managerial roles, designing and implementing crisis intervention programs. Crisis intervention specialists must have a thorough knowledge of de-escalation protocols and be connected to community resources and programs. They may work in public health or healthcare facilities.

Online Master’s in Human Services Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in human services degree program?

To apply to an online master’s in human services program, students need only visit the university website. There, they can determine whether it’s possible to fill out the application directly on the site or if the site redirects to an application portal. While reviewing the application, students should always double-check what additional paperwork may be required when they apply, including GRE scores, letters of recommendation, application essays, or cover letters.

If any questions remain, students should contact the school’s admissions counselors. These counselors can answer such questions and verify that the application is not missing any necessary paperwork.

How much does an online master’s in human services degree program cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, students may pay between $13,000 to $25,000 for an online master’s in human services. The primary reason for this range is that some schools are much more expensive than others. For example, students can generally expect to pay more for a private school, and students will pay more at most institutions if they are out-of-state students rather than in-state students.

Fortunately, students taking an online program will save compared to taking the same program in person because they won’t have to pay various on-campus fees, including parking and student activity fees, and they won’t have to relocate to an expensive college town.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in human services degree?

An online master’s in human services class typically runs for 30 credit hours, so full-time students can usually complete coursework within two years.

Certain schools offer accelerated programs that allow full-time students to complete required coursework in as little as one year. Those who can’t attend full-time should focus on programs that provide the flexibility necessary to fit an academic schedule around an already-busy schedule. In many ways, this is one of the most critical recommendations because the students who find schools willing to work with their schedule can avoid disruptive schedule conflicts.

Is an online master’s in human services worth it?

An online master’s in human services degree program gives you a diverse framework to help you understand how people act and relate to others and how communities serve a larger role in ensuring the health of their citizens. Students learn skills that can help them take on leadership and management roles or prepare them to go on and earn doctoral degrees.

The average salary for graduates with a master’s degree in human services is $72,000 per year, but this can vary widely by industry and position.

A graduate degree in human services may include opportunities, such as practicums, research projects, and internships that let you get real-world experience in your field. Online programs usually have synchronous and asynchronous coursework, so you still get the benefit of collaborating with peers and professors.

Completing an online degree program shows potential employers that you have the organization and self-motivation skills to succeed in a fast-paced job environment. It also prepares you for remote positions, such as those in telecounseling.